Feature Spotlight: Perspectives

In my first post, I staked ilograph’s claim in the diagramming tool landscape, saying ilographs treat perspectives as first-class citizens. With ilograph, viewing a system from multiple perspectives is a built-in concept. The same resource can appear in two different perspectives, and those perspectives are then linked together visually.

Perspectives are ilographs most salient feature (rivaled only, perhaps, by interactivity). It does, however, require additional effort and forethought to create a multi-perspective diagram, so the benefits better be worth it (beyond simply being “neat”).

Benefit 1: More readable diagrams

Traditional single-perspective system diagrams often contain more details than can be understood by the intended audience. Consider this diagram from the AWS Drupal quick start reference:

This diagram is trying to tell many stories at once, such as how data requests flow though the system, and how system administrators connect to the webserver instances for maintenance. Splitting these into two separate perspectives allow each to shine individually rather than conflict with each other together:

Benefit 2: More complete diagrams

Multi-perspectives diagrams allows you to include more details about your system without sacrificing readability. The traditional AWS diagram above does not include an important consideration: security groups. Many of the critical resources in that diagram belong to various security groups, but the author (probably wisely) did not include that information. Using an ilograph, we can add a third perspective to our diagram which shows the security groups without impacting our existing perspectives:

Benefit 3: Multiple levels of detail

Perspectives allow you to deliver high- and low-level details in the same diagram. The Drupal Aurora cluster in our diagram, for example, is a system unto itself. Instead of busying our existing perspectives with the instances, replicas and volumes that make up the cluster, we can put those details into another perspective for those who are interested:

Benefit 4: Improved collaboration

Perhaps most importantly for large organizations, perspectives allow multiple experts to express how they view a system using the same resources. Security, virtualization, software and physical layouts, to name a few, can all be viewed separately yet together.

If you haven’t already, check out the Drupal on AWS ilograph sample.